What Makes Rutabaga The Ideal Substitute For Turnips

Turnips are versatile and sophisticated root vegetables that offer unique flavor and texture in both raw and cooked forms. While its peppery bite is hard to imitate, you can substitute turnips with their larger cousin: the rutabaga. The similarities between these two brassicas are greater than their differences. To begin, rutabagas are often referred to as Swedish turnips, and not just for the Swedish etymology of their name.

While they're larger, rutabagas have the same bulbous appearance as turnips with hues of purple and off-white. In fact, rutabagas are a hybrid of turnips and cabbage, sharing the raw bitter, vegetal taste inherent in each. They also have similar nutrient profiles, both offering a great source of fiber and vitamin C.

Both rutabagas and turnips are root vegetables and thus benefit from the same cooking methods, like roasting, grilling, braising, or boiling and mashing. Cooking them enhances that nutty, savory brassica flavor common in cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. Whether you roast, stew, or mash them, rutabagas assume the same pillowy, creamy textures you get with cooked turnips. Rutabagas are heartier, larger vegetables than turnips, which means you need less of them to substitute turnips. Unlike turnips, you can store them in a dark pantry like onions and potatoes, so you don't have to take up precious fridge space if you're not going to use them right away.

Best recipes to swap turnips for rutabaga

Rutabagas make the best turnip substitute in raw and cooked dishes. While rutabaga is less peppery than turnip, they both have a pronounced bittersweet taste and crunchy, fibrous texture when used raw. You can peel their waxy skin and julienne them into crunchy matchsticks to pair with sweet, tart green apples with a tangy, spicy mustard vinaigrette.

Cooked dishes are a lot more popular and plentiful for both turnips and rutabaga, and you can use the two interchangeably in multi-ingredient stews or veggie roasts without worrying about adjusting seasonings or ingredient proportions. A simple drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper seasoning will highlight their brassica flavors and enrich their sweetness in the oven. You can pair rutabagas with roasted Brussels sprouts to compensate for the bitterness they lack in comparison to turnips. They'd make a delicious addition to an umami-rich old fashioned beef stew or in a lentil soup with mushrooms for a vegan twist.

If you're substituting rutabagas for turnips in a mash, puree, or cream soup, they'll provide a richer, starchier consistency. Where turnip puree recipes often call for a potato to add heft, the rutabaga has enough starch to stand alone in a puree. You could add a cooked carrot for a sweet complement without added heft. If you want to increase the bitterness of mashed rutabaga, you can add extra black pepper or stir a wilted bitter green like spinach or chard into the mash.